Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Brunch in the East #2: Collective Espresso & Cafe Carpenter

Hello all!! :) I've decided to continue the "Brunch in the East" series post. This time we are travelling to Camberwell and Chadstone/Malvern East.

Remember I mentioned in my previous post about wanting to try out Collective Espresso? Well, I finally made it there with The Boyfriend one lovely Saturday morning!

Whilst perusing the menu, The Boyfriend pointed out that coffee here was very reasonably priced so I thought why not start my day with a cuppa mocha.

The Boyfriend, on the other hand, opted for prana chai tea. However, he was served with a prana chai coffee instead. The Boyfriend being The Boyfriend though, did not want to send it back.

Yeah, he is annoying kind like that, so even if he has been served with a dish/drink he did not order or even if the food isn't well-cooked, he doesn't like all the hustle about sending food back.

Anyway, moving on to our food....

We've always wanted to try emu, so we (particularly The Boyfriend) were quite excited to find emu burger on the menu.

The burger was pretty good - bun had a crispy exterior yet still fluffy on the inside, and the patty although a little dry, was not at all gamy as I was initially fearful might be the case.

Although I'd much prefer melted cheese, it went really well with the feta and onion jam.

I also wanted something sweet that morning so we ordered the brioche french toast from the specials menu.

Served with two dollops of mango mousse (which didn't take long to melt and could do with more), walnuts and puffed grains, the french toast was pretty alright albeit a tad burnt.

So yes, while the food was decent, service was awfully slow. Friendly but slow. We waited a gooooooooood while and my tummy was rumbling away.

As for the interior, there were only a couple of high tables, a main communal table and only high stools which I found was a tad uncomfortable, I kept shifting about my chair.

Collective Espresso on Urbanspoon
Oh, and the loud music. Boy, it was so loud that I could barely hear The Boyfriend. I felt like I was in a night bar or something! So well, for these reasons, I won't be rushing back.

*********

I am usually the one to decide where to eat, but one day, The Boyfriend said to me, "Let's go to Cafe Carpenter. Uncle Andy took me there whilst you were holidaying in Malaysia and the food is good. Korean & Jap, I think you'll like it."

My ears perked up like a puppy when I heard the word "Korean" hehehe. Yes, I am obsessed with K-food at the moment, I can't seem to get enough. So I was like yeah sure, why not!

I really liked the bright wooden interior and how cozy it felt. Wooden benches paired with rugs and bright, colourful pillows, you could almost just sit back and relax, like you would at home.

Even the menu was very interesting. I've never had Korean or Japanese done brekkie/brunch style - so I was intrigued.

Unfortunately though, they ran outta bread and wasn't serving brekkie/brunch that day. :( Well I guess that's a good excuse to return!

We proceeded with lunch instead, and decided to order a dish from the Japanese menu and another from the Korean menu.

The Boyfriend highly recommended the takoyaki balls. He even claimed this to be the best he has had. Well, it did not disappoint.

The takoyaki balls were soft and gooey on the inside, with a perfect exterior crisp - simply delicious!

We also ordered a Korean Beef BBQ, thinking it would be like beef bulgogi. Needless to say we were a little taken aback when the dish arrived as we totally did not expect to be served with a beef patty.

I was skeptical at first, but all it took was one bite to completely change my perception. The patty was not only tender and moist, it was so darn bloody tasty and full of flavour. I was impressed!

I have to however point out that food may take a while to arrive because the cafe is ran only by the hardworking owners (husband and wife). They do everything; from taking orders, to serving water/drinks, taking care of food preparation and even cooking.

But the delicious and well-presented food was well worth the wait. Big thumbs up from us! I will definitely be back again, on days when I am not too hungry so I wouldn't mind the wait hehe.

Cafe Carpenter on Urbanspoon
If you're after something different for brekkie/brunch, then you should definitely pop Cafe Carpenter on your to-eat-list.

The owners are very friendly and go out of their way to ensure that you're being well taken care of. Paired with unique homey food and the good comfortable vibe that the cafe offers... Tick, tick, tick. ;)

Friday, April 11, 2014

Brasserie Bread - The Art of Lamination

I have always wanted to make croissants and danishes at home. Always. Imagine the smell of freshly baked pastries emanating from your oven... Oh, how good would that be!

Believe it or not, I even had "Learn how to make croissants!" on my resolution list this year.

Before that though, I knew I had to master the art of lamination. I have done a fair bit of reading on techniques and have watched a fair amount of videos too. But y'know, I was still quite skeptical.

Heh, you cannot imagine how stoked and excited I was when I was invited to participate in the newly introduced Art of Lamination class at Brasserie Bread Melbourne.

The Art of Lamination class ($160) runs for 3 hours and they are designed for up to 10 students each class to ensure that you benefit the most out of Chef Gauthier during the workshop.

It is a very hands-on workshop, where the very friendly Chef Gauthier will show you exactly how to mix the dough, laminate, shape and then bake the much-loved croissants and danishes.

The class kicked off with a brief introduction on the importance of ingredient selection (and croissant tasting hehehe) before we got straight down to business.

Yeap, you will be mixing the dough by hand and learn the techniques of kneading (and slamming!) the dough. It is tiring but very therapeutic. I consider all that kneading my work out for the week done! :P

Of course, you will also learn how to shape and roll the butter into the prepared dough. Chef G cannot reiterate enough how important it is to use good butter - he recommends Lurpak or Western Star if you cannot get your hands on imported French butter.

And then moving on to the art of lamination!! Chef G took us through it very thoroughly, step-by-step he explained it all in great detail.

It didn't take us long at all to get a hang of it. I can now proudly say that I know how the lamination process works, I just need to keep practicing to be able to master it.

You'll also learn how to shape the dough. How do you think I fared? Not too bad for a first timer, hey? ;)

Well I can't really claim all the credit haha, it was only made possible because Chef G was so thorough during demonstration.

In this class, we managed to cover croissants and almond croissants.

Uh huh, that's Callebaut couverture chocolate!
And pain au chocolat (ie. chocolate croissant) which The Boyfriend absolutely loved and requested that I make more.

And apricot danishes too, which were my absolute favourite! Of course, you could always replace the apricot for any other stone fruits, or pears, or rhubarb... Just not fruits like raspberries or strawberries or banana that would get all soggy during proofing and baking.

Once we were done with all the kneading, laminating and shaping, Chef G then took us on a factory tour around the bakery which never fails to inspire me! You may read more about the tour here.

The class then wrapped up with a breaducation where Chef G introduced to us the different types of bread that Brasserie produces. Sorry, no pictures because I was too busy indulging in the bread and my fav Pepesaya butter! :P

Chef G also taught us ways on how to play with them on our tastebuds
appreciate bread and how to tell the difference between a good loaf of sourdough that uses a starter and a fake one that was made sour by using vinegar.

Ooooh, look at all that layers! 
I left not only with my tummy well fed, but also with my newly acquired knowledge and skill.

Oh, and not to forget my freshly baked pastries, along with sheets of croissant dough to finish off at home too! ;)

If you too are a beginner like me and are keen to learn the art of lamination, I would highly recommend this class. It was very fun and informative; Chef G even shared with us some great technical tips that you won't be able to learn from recipe books.

The next classes are scheduled on the 3rd May and 14th of June. If you're interested, click here to book online. ;)

Oh, and I thought it was also worth pointing out that Brasserie Bread not only uses top quality ingredients in their daily production, but they also prepare and provide these ingredients for their students to use during class. It is all about quality at Brasserie Bread. Big thumbs up to them for that! 

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Shimbashi Soba & Sake Bar

Hello from the Land of the Rising Sun!! Yes, I am in Japan! 日本! :D I've waited so long for this trip (we booked in May last year!), and hurray we are finally here!

I thought, whilst in Japan, it'd be totes appropriate to update my blog with a review of a Japanese restaurant in Melbourne - Shimbashi Soba & Sake Bar. So for those craving Japanese back in Aussie, head on over for some soba. ;)

I invited an old friend, K, out for lunch and we met up at Parliament Station prior to taking a quick walk (had to rush before they closed at 2.30pm) to Shimbashi which is located on Liverpool Street.

Shimbashi pride themselves in their handmade soba noodles, which they make in house using the buckwheat mill you can see on the bottom left of the above picture.

As soon as we sat down, we were served with a cup of water and complimentary salad each.

I ordered a Tempura Seiro (chilled soba) which was perfect on a hot summer day. The soba noodles was served with its dipping sauce, spring onions and a plate of prawns and vegetables tempura.

The soy based dipping sauce was light and refreshing - dipping a biteful of soba noodles into the dipping sauce, and have a good slurp! Oishiiiiiiiii! ;)

K had the Kamo Seiro - a plate of chilled soba served with duck dipping sauce which he absolutely enjoyed. He reported back saying, "This soba is really good!" I was so tempted to poke my fork into one of the sliced duck meat, but I told myself I had to behave. :P

Many have claimed this to be the best and most authenticate soba, but whilst I may not be able to comment on whether they serve the best soba, they sure do serve amazing, tasty soba!

Shimbashi Soba & Sake Bar on Urbanspoon
If you're a big fan of soba, definitely do give Shimbashi Soba a try - fresh and delicious! ;)
Click on 'OLDER POSTS' for more! :)